Explaining the WEME Resources

The innovative exploration produced as part of the Throwing Bones Interface express an awareness of the materiality of early modern maleficium, and work by creating conceptual clusters which will allow users to pattern seek through hands-on and eyes-on engagement with the text and the corpora. Likewise, by accounting for both the scale of research possibilities and the desire for serendipitous discovery, browsing is enabled by our Reading Leaves, the geographic visualization enabled by the mapping tool, and the proximity searching enabled by our datamining tool will enable the researcher a more naturalistic way of seeing textual patterns, and will enable her to engage meaningfully with the ones she sees. These ways of looking at early English witchcraft texts allow critics, researchers, and readers a sense of the materiality of the maleficium which defined the witch, while moving across geography, temporality, conceptuality, and in a sense, corporeality, with an ease which seems, at times, like good magic.

Several technologies are invoked to construct this multidimensional picture of how witchcraft was represented in print for the WEME project. Along with my RAs, I make use of a data entry interface (Django) to record assertions - the who, what, when, where, and how – of the events of early English witchcraft. These assertions include an excerpt from the original text and page numbers / signatures and the interpretation and classification of the event structured by one or more hierarchical classifications, such as “Bewitchment,” “Injury,” and “Accusation” Geographic data is recorded, indicating the parish and county and corresponding latitude and longitude. People are also classified hierarchically with classifications such as “Witch”, “Unwitcher”, or “Victim.” The system uses these assertions to produce clusters of cards in the Throwing Bones interface. This interface makes use of several web technologies and frameworks including PHP, Django, J2EE, AJAX, MySQL, JQuery, and Apache, as well as off-the-shelf analysis and visualization packages such as the Flamenco data browser, Google Maps API. Making use of these pre-existing technologies helps the project present agile and interactive modes of recording and interacting with early modern English witchcraft.

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